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The best* reward credit cards – trending now
Compare the features, sign-up bonus point offers and earn rates of the rewards cards below:
A rewards credit card is linked to a loyalty program, allowing you to earn reward points per $1 spent on the card. This usually includes foreign transactions as well. These points are then credited to your rewards account. You can redeem your points for rewards including flights, merchandise, accommodation, travel packages, gift cards, cashback and products from the rewards store.
Rewards credit cards can help you get more value from your purchases, but these cards typically charge higher standard interest rates and annual fees than other options. So these cards are best suited if you can pay your balance in full each statement period to avoid interest and earn enough points to outweigh the annual fee.
What is an eligible transaction on a rewards credit card?
Each rewards program and credit card company has a different definition of which transactions earn points. Generally, most of your everyday purchases will earn points – including spending at retail stores, supermarkets and petrol stations. Transactions that usually don't earn points are government charges (including ATO payments), BPAY transactions, cash advances, balance transfers, account fees and account charges. Check the rewards program's terms and conditions for a full list of eligible and ineligible transactions so you know when you will earn rewards.
What rewards can I get with credit card points?
The rewards you can get with a credit card depend on the card you choose and the rewards program. Some of the most popular reward categories include:
Flights and flight upgrades
Frequent flyer points
Instant shopping discounts
Tickets for theme parks or movies
Types of credit card rewards programs in Australia
There are four main reward categories: Frequent flyer programs, credit card reward programs, retail reward programs and cashback cards. You'll find more details on each of these options below.
Frequent flyer programs and travel rewards
Many credit cards earn points that can be redeemed for travel rewards including flights, upgrades, accommodation and car hire. If you have a card linked to a frequent flyer program, you can earn points and redeem rewards with a particular airline (such as Qantas or Virgin Australia). There are two main ways to earn frequent flyer points with a rewards credit card in Australia:
Frequent flyer points. Frequent flyer credit cards are linked with a specific frequent flyer program and rewards are added directly to your airline loyalty account. The frequent flyer programs that are linked to direct earn credit cards in Australia include Qantas Frequent Flyer, Velocity Frequent Flyer and Emirates Skywards.
Transfer credit card rewards to frequent flyer points. You can transfer reward points from these credit cards to points with partnered frequent flyer programs, giving you more flexibility if you fly with a number of airlines. American Express Membership Rewards, ANZ Rewards, CommBank Awards, NAB Rewards, Citi Rewards, St.George Amplify Rewards and Westpac Altitude Rewards are all examples of bank rewards programs with frequent flyer partners. Exchanging your credit card reward points generally offers less competitive earn rates than if you were to earn them directly with a frequent flyer credit card. However, it can be a good option if you want to earn points with a program that isn’t directly linked with an Australian credit card (such as Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer).
As well as allowing you to transfer points to partnered frequent flyer programs, many rewards credit cards let you earn points per $1 spent that can be redeemed directly for flights, travel upgrades, accommodation, car hire, gift cards and travel experiences. So if you do not want to earn points through a frequent flyer program, you could consider a credit card rewards program that includes options for travel.
Credit card rewards programs
Many credit card companies in Australia have their own branded rewards programs. If you get a credit card linked to one of these rewards programs, you can usually redeem points for a variety of rewards. This includes frequent flyer points and travel, as well as merchandise, gift cards and credit on your account. The credit card rewards programs available in Australia include:
Automatic and instant reward options on credit cards
Many credit card reward programs give you the option of setting up automatic redemptions for specific rewards, such as cashback, gift cards or frequent flyer points. For example, ANZ Rewards offers an auto-redemption option for Velocity Frequent Flyer points. With this option, all your ANZ Rewards points are automatically transferred to your Velocity account annually, periodically or when you have earned a specific amount of ANZ Rewards points.
Other credit card companies offer instant redemptions with certain retailers. For example, if you have a CommBank Awards credit card you can redeem your points in-store at Myer or Flight Centre.
Retail rewards credit cards
These rewards credit cards offer you points, discounts and other perks when you shop with a particular supermarket or major retailer, such as Coles, Woolworths, Myer or David Jones. You can compare some examples of how these retail rewards cards work below:
Offers Membership Rewards or Qantas Points for purchases in David Jones and everywhere else. Also gives you access to exclusive in-store benefits at David Jones, plus complimentary travel insurance and airport lounge access.
These types of reward credit cards add credit or “cash” to your account when you meet certain spending requirements. Most cashback credit cards offer a percentage of your total spend as cashback or provide a one-time account credit as an introductory offer when you apply and are approved for a specific credit card.
You can also get cashback through most of the frequent flyer, credit card and supermarket or retail rewards programs outlined above. Just choose the “cash” or “gift cards” category of your rewards program to see what options are available.
How can I use credit card reward points?
The steps you need to take to redeem your points will vary between credit cards and reward programs, but you can usually expect to have to do the following:
Log in to your account. If you're redeeming points online, you'll need to log in to your credit card or rewards program account to make redemptions. Once you have logged in, it’s usually a simple process of going to the “Rewards” section, then selecting “Use points” and following the prompts.
Make sure you have enough points for your reward. You need a certain number of points to redeem each reward (e.g. 12,000 points for a $50 gift card). If you don't have enough points, you may have to wait until you earn more points, or consider other options.
Check if points plus pay is offered. Many credit card and frequent flyer reward programs allow you to use a combination of points and money to redeem rewards. This option is usually available for a selection of rewards, such as travel or merchandise, and gives you more flexibility if you haven’t earned enough points for your chosen reward.
Confirm your chosen reward. Once you've found the reward you want, click through to the redemption process and follow the prompts to complete your redemption.
Travel rewards booking services and partnerships
If you want to use your points for travel rewards, you may also have the option of redeeming them through a dedicated travel booking service. For example, CommBank Awards points can be used to pay for trips booked through Flight Centre, while Amex Membership Rewards can be used through the American Express Travel service (either online or over the phone). These services can help you plan your trip with help from a travel agent. But keep in mind that you may not know how many points are required beforehand, which could make it harder to set a points goal or budget.
What's the best rewards credit card in Australia?
This largely depends on your financial circumstances and points goals. With such a wide range of options available, there is no single best credit card for earning rewards. But you can find a card that works for you by comparing cards based on factors including the rewards earn rate, bonus points and other extras, as well as the annual fee and interest rates. If you weigh these details up against your current spending habits, you'll be able to see if the rewards you earn will be worth the costs so that you can decide if the card is right for you.
How to compare rewards credit cards in Australia
From earning points to the rewards you want to redeem, here are some of the factors to consider when comparing rewards credit cards:
How can I earn points?
Bonus point offers. Rewards credit cards often have sign-up deals that give you thousands of bonus points. Usually, you need to meet a spend requirement in a set period to score the points but it’s a simple way to give your points balance a boost. Just make sure that the spend requirement fits with your budget.
Points per dollar. The earn rate refers to how many points you’ll earn per $1 spent. The higher the better, but a card that offers at least 1 point per $1 on eligible transactions could be considered good value.
Point expiry and caps. Some credit card reward points expire after a certain amount of time, and some accounts have a limit on how many points you can earn in a month or year. Make sure these restrictions don’t limit your points potential.
What's the value of the rewards?
Point values. To work out the value of your rewards, consider how many points you would need to redeem for a specific reward. For example, let’s say you need 12,000 points to get a $50 gift card and your credit card has an earn rate of 1 point per $1 spent. You would to need to spend $12,000 to make a redemption before you could redeem the $50 gift card. Breaking down the rewards like this can help you determine whether it’s worth your time and money.
Rewards partners. Rewards programs often partner with retailers and businesses to provide you with a wider range of redemption options. You may also have the opportunity to earn bonus points when you shop with partner stores. Choose a credit card rewards program that has partnerships with your favourite brands and products so you can take advantage of these options.
Redemption limitations. Some rewards programs have blackout periods when you may not be able to make redemptions. Check the fine print for this information and consider the impact it could have on you.
Table: How much do you need to spend to get rewards?
The points required for different rewards varies, which makes it hard to work out how much you would need to spend with a particular card. But, to give you a basic idea, we have compared the amount of points needed to redeem a $100 retail gift card for the major rewards programs linked to different credit cards.
As different gift cards can have different point redemption values, we have focused on digital gift cards from popular retail brands and options including WISH (Woolworths Group), Coles Myer and David Jones. We have also included the amount you'd need to spend in order to earn those points, based on common earn rates of 0.5 points per $1 and 1 point per $1. Finally, we've included the range of annual fees for personal credit cards associated with each program.
Based on this table, we can see that the minimum spend required for a $100 gift card or equivalent is $10,000 with Myer One if your credit card offers 1 point per $1 spent. In comparison, the maximum spend required for a $100 gift card would be $80,000 with a Bankwest More Rewards credit card that earns 0.5 points per $1 spent. In the end, if you spend less than $10,000 a year on your credit card, it's unlikely you'll get much value from a rewards program.
What are the costs?
Annual fees. Most rewards credit cards charge an annual fee. The value of the rewards you redeem with your points should exceed the annual fee to make it worthwhile. You can also compare rewards credit cards that offer no annual fee – just remember to check if the annual fee is waived in the first year or $0 for life.
Foreign transaction fees. Many credit cards charge a fee for transactions made overseas or with an international retailer online. This is usually 2% to 3.5% of the total transaction. Make sure you consider this fee before choosing a card – especially for any rewards card that offers more points for foreign transactions. You can compare cards with no foreign transaction fees with this guide.
Purchase interest rates. Rewards credit cards often have high standard interest rates on purchases. If you think you’ll carry a balance, consider how much interest your purchases will accrue and whether the rewards will outweigh the cost of your repayments. If you do regularly carry a balance, you might want to check out low rate credit cards instead.
Balance transfer interest rates. Some rewards credit cards also come with 0% balance transfer promotions, but you won't earn points for the balance that you transfer. Plus, any new purchases will attract the card's purchase interest rate. If you have credit card debt that’s collecting interest, it may be better to focus on paying it off completely before considering a rewards card.
Cash advance interest rates. If you use a rewards credit card for a cash advance transaction, such as getting money from an ATM, you will be charged interest at the cash advance rate. This rate could be as high as 22% p.a. Cash advances usually don't earn reward points either.
Are there any complimentary extras?
Rewards credit cards often come with a variety of additional features that can add value to the account you choose. Popular perks include the following:
Complimentary international travel insurance
Airport lounge access
Complimentary flights and travel credits
Complimentary hotel stays and discounts
Purchase protection insurance
Extended warranty coverage
Price match guarantees
Rewards programs can be a great way to get extra value from your credit card. With so many rewards cards on the market, it's important to compare your options based on the card that offers you the greatest rewards. Plus, don't forget to factor in any interest charges, annual fees and other costs before you apply.
So if you want a rewards card, start by comparing a range of credit cards based on the rewards program, sign-up bonus point offers, costs and your spending habits. You can then read reviews of individual cards, check your eligibility and apply for a card that suits your needs.
Sally McMullen is a creative content producer at Finder, co-hosts our Pocket Money podcast and wrote about credit cards for almost five years. Her byline can be spotted on Yahoo Finance, Dynamic Business, Financy and Mamamia as well as Music Feeds and Rolling Stone. She has a Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies majoring in Journalism (Hons) from the University of Wollongong.
* The credit card offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of credit
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